Years slipped by, but every time I thought about the Watchtower Society’s pedophilia issue I felt a pang of conscience. Nothing was being done! Nothing was changing. Children were being abused and the perpetrators were not being disciplined nor was law enforcement being involved in the majority of cases. How could this be happening in God’s Only True Organization?
I was disgusted. My meeting attendance, already slipping, dwindled. In 2001 my father passed away after a very short illness. He had been the Presiding Overseer in our congregation for some 14 years but had moved away about a year before his death. The elders are supposed to make a “condolence call” on a congregation member who has lost a relative. Nobody came. One elder called, but all he wanted was some demographic information on my father to insert into his memorial talk. None of the other elders called. I was already more or less “marked.” Very few congregation members came to the memorial service for my father. I was furious.
My friend and her husband had written to the Society regarding the pedophilia issue to no avail, and my husband was deep into his “wait on Jehovah” mode. I felt disgust. By late 2003 I knew that Jehovah’s Witnesses were not God’s chosen people. Maybe they had been at one time, but not anymore.
At the Congregation Book Study we were studying the book, “Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand” for the third time. With my newly unleashed skepticism I noticed that one whole section of the Revelation prophecy (regarding the seven trumpet blasts) was applied to the Watchtower Society without any scriptures cited for support.
Each trumpet blast was linked to a convention of the International Bible Students Association (later renamed Jehovah’s Witnesses) which at that period of time were usually held in Cedar Point, Ohio, and in particular a resolution passed at each of seven conventions in the late teens and early 1920s. These resolutions were printed and distributed as widely as a small group of people could manage, which was pretty limited, as you might imagine.
Supposedly the trumpet blasts were to be heard worldwide and result in devastating consequences for whatever sector of society was being condemned. It suddenly hit me that these resolutions could not be the trumpet blasts because they received limited distribution (certainly not worldwide) and accomplished nothing but possibly insulting a few people. Big whoop. It kind of reminded me of the proverbial ant railing against a freight train.
My father-in-law (a JW from 1953 until his death in 2013) used to be fond of saying, “It’s amazing how a bunch of old ladies sitting under the trees in Cedar Point fulfilled bible prophecy.” He said it as a joke, but now it hit home. What a load of crap! Why should this puny group of people think they’re God’s chosen messengers? Honestly, a lot of Revelation sounds like the ravings of a man on a bad trip from ingesting psychedelic mushrooms.
So, now the dam was breached. If that piece of what the Watchtower Society taught was a nothing but hooey then what about the rest of it? I remembered my lessons from geometry class that if one part of a statement was untrue, the whole statement was untrue. I was very disillusioned and angry. My husband tried to “help” me by instituting a family study, something he had neglected for some time. I had to go along with him because he was my spiritual “head.”
However, the process had begun. Little by little, the cracks in the “dam” widened.
At about the same time, I joined an online message board for fans of a particular singer. I had never been anybody’s fan before (fandom is strongly discouraged as a form of idolatry), but I was captivated. This was 2003, and the Watchtower Society had not yet realized the danger posed by the Internet, so nothing but the vaguest counsel had been given about joining online communities.
The forum allowed me an outlet for writing, and I was receiving praise from my fellow board members who enjoyed my posts. All of a sudden, I felt powerful for the first time in my life. I had a gift! Strength flowed through my veins and energized my torpid mind.
I couldn’t read The Watchtower magazine any longer; it contained too much “Hurray for us and the rest of you are nothing but dead meat” rhetoric. The meetings were becoming intolerable. The kingdom hall was awash in hypocrisy. The whole thrust of the blathering from the platform was numbers, numbers, numbers. How many hours did you get in field service? How many books or magazines did you place? How many meetings have you missed? How many years have you been faithful? Whatever happened to the emphasis on Christian qualities and becoming more Christ-like?
Many times, partway through the meeting I would feel a pressure in my head like it was going to explode. I’d gather my books and head for the door. Luckily, we lived close enough that I could walk home.
I couldn’t bring myself to participate in the ministry, trying to convince people that JWs were God’s people and that they should join up. It was all lies.
I bucked my husband’s headship and decided independently to take a trip to meet some of my message board friends and attend a concert with them. I didn’t ask; I told him I was going.
I had the best time of my life meeting my friends and attending the concert (we’re all still friends 10 years later and get together frequently). It dawned on me that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not hold a corner on the market of being “nice” and “good” people. These ladies were kinder and more loving than most of the JWs I knew. That realization really caused my head to explode.
When I came home, I was a changed woman. My husband saw it, and it angered him. He was one who kept his anger bottled up, and it showed in passive-aggressive ways. Now I could see that he was very deeply angry. One night he had an issue with the computer and asked me for help. I came to his aid, but he was already furious. At one point, I looked into his eyes and saw that he wanted to kill me. I’d lived with the man for nearly 27 years. I had never been afraid of him (despite his frequent flirtations with homicidal rage – long story) but now I was terrified. I was going to become the subject of one of those tragic headlines: “Puzzled neighbors say man who murdered his wife was a ‘nice guy.’”
I contacted my friends on the message board and my BFF, and we devised a plan to get me out of there. I left in the middle of the day less than a week later and never looked back. A few days later I delivered my letter of disassociation to the kingdom hall. That was nine years ago this month.
In the aftermath, of course, I have no contact with my mother and brother who live 5000 miles away. I divorced my husband and he remarried a few years later. I’ve recently reconnected with my paternal extended family (after 40 years), so I don’t feel so much like a speck floating in the universe. I’ve discovered the world is not a dark forest of terrors as the JWs would have their members believe. Demons do not lurk behind every tree and parked car. People are just plain folks, not slavering minions of Satan. There is beauty to be found in each precious day of life which is especially enhanced because I’m enjoying it with a free mind.